On the Town
This summer marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, the conflict that gave us the modern world - Communist Russia, the post-Ottoman Middle East, Europe's loss of civilizational confidence. The catalyst for war was the assassination of the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, which Mark noted here a month ago. In the weeks ahead, we'll be looking at some of World War One's cultural legacy, for good or ill. As a curtain-raiser, here's an encore presentation of a SteynOnline audio special, celebrating the British Tommies' favourite ballad of the war years, "If You Were The Only Girl In The World", and its composer Nat D Ayer.
Ayer was a two-hit wonder, with an ocean between them: "If You Were The Only Girl" was his British hit; his American hit from five years earlier was known to generations of Looney Tunes viewers for most of the next century - "Oh, You Beautiful Doll". This special podcast was first broadcast to mark the 100th birthday of "Beautiful Doll" in 2011. Mark celebrates the song with help not just from Mel Torme and Al Jolson but also Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Sylvester and Tweety - and then he talks to Nat Ayer's son, Nat Ayer Jr, about "If You Were The Only Girl In The World", the great English ballad of the First World War, and indelibly linked with that conflict through the memories of a generation of soldiers. We'll trace the evolution of both songs over the course of a century through ragtime, jazz, western, rock'n'roll - and we'll hear not only Dean Martin, Barbra Streisand, Richard Rodney Bennett and others but also the composer himself perform both his enduring tunes. We'll also hear Nat D Ayer sing Irving Berlin - and the "Me And Mrs Jones" of 1910.
To listen to this SteynOnline audio special, simply click above.
from On the Town, July 26, 2014
American TV's Uncle Walter died at a grand old age five years ago, bringing to an end the media's obsequies for Michael Jackson...
Mark talks to Kander & Ebb, writers of Cabaret and Chicago - and recalls his own small place in their oeuvre
...but whatever happened to non-super heroes?
The last of the Mamas and Papas when all the leaves are brown...
A SteynOnline audio special to mark the 60th birthday of The Pajama Game
No sooner do we release the new eBook of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade than readers start bombarding me with demands to know where the audio book is. Well, here's the nearest to an audio excerpt from the book - a salute to Artie Shaw...
An audio special in which Mark traces the story of the only Easter standard in the American songbook
Mark's centenary salute to Budd Schulberg, the Hollywood survivor who wrote What Makes Sammy Run?, On The Waterfront and Face In The Crowd...
In lieu of our usual Song of the Week, we present a SteynOnline audio special: Mark talks to singer-songwriter Paul Simon - including a tour of Simon's boyhood neighborhood and a live performance of his very first song
In Part Two of our audio special, Paul Simon talks to Mark about songwriting, demonstrates the original ska version of "Mother And Child Reunion", and muses on the alleged homosexual subtext of "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard"
John Barry was a versatile musician of prodigious talent who in a half-century career worked in pop music, film and theatre. But, if he'd never done anything else, he'd have a claim on posterity as the man who singlehandedly created the instantly recognizable sound of big-screen spy music.
He was born 80 years ago - on November 3rd 1933, in Yorkshire, where his dad owned the local cinema. To mark what would have been his 80th birthday, here's an encore presentation of Mark's audio salute to John, and the man he musicalized for a quarter-century, the only spy with his own song catalogue, James Bond.
The SteynOnline Hit Parade
© 2014 Mark Steyn Enterprises (US) Inc. All rights reserved.